“I almost can’t believe that I'm really this awesome!” Bai Xiaochun was extremely excited, and his eyes were glowing more brightly than ever. He even felt a bit dizzy from the rush of emotion. “I, Bai Xiaochun, actually created a new divine ability! That’s the kind of thing that sect-founding patriarchs do! I... I can’t believe I’m so worthy of admiration!”
He threw his head back and laughed uproariously at how amazing he was. As he reveled in his success, he thought back to how Chen Hetian had abandoned him, and realized that his loss was definitely a major blow to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect.
“Hmmmphh. One of these days I'm going to make sure Chen Hetian regrets that decision of his. In fact, the whole Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect is going to regret it....” With that, he sat down cross-legged for a bit to recover his energy, then swaggered back to the Bai Clan.
Everything went very smoothly along the way. After all, he had left a clone behind in the north district of the Bai Clan, and therefore, no one had even suspected that he’d left his hut.
A few days later, the combined efforts of Zhou Yixing and Li Feng finally got them all of the murdersoul spikes and teleportation talismans that Bai Xiaochun had requested. After studying the murdersoul spikes thoroughly, Bai Xiaochun found that they were crafted from souls, using a technique he had never even realized existed. Furthermore, the souls used to create them had especially strong murderous auras.
After analyzing the murdersoul spikes, Bai Xiaochun realized that if he set them up in the clan right now, there would be too much of a risk of them being found. Therefore, he decided to wait until right before entering the ancestral land. That would be the best and safest bet.
As he waited, he thought about the formula for thirteen-colored flame, and also spent time cultivating his Undying Live Forever Technique.
Another half a month went by. One evening when he was sitting in meditation, working on the final qi passageways necessary to complete his Undying Tendons, his expression flickered, and he looked at the door.
With his divine sense, he could clearly see three beams of light heading in his direction. Soon, three middle-aged men became visible, each of them wearing a black robe with a sun and a moon embroidered on it.
Only members of the Hall of Corrections could wear uniforms like that, and the arrival of these men caused an instant commotion in the north district. Considering that everyone there had very low standing in the clan, they were all left trembling with fear and hesitant to make a single noise.
The three men had arrogant expressions on their faces as they looked around in disgust at the north district. As far as they were concerned, this place was a malignant boil within the Bai Clan, a dirty, filthy place that they were loath to enter. Soon, they were right outside of Bai Xiaochun’s hut.
Then, one of them spoke out in a coldly impatient voice. “Bai Hao, get out here right now!”
Inside the hut, Bai Xiaochun’s heart began to pound.
“Don’t tell me they figured out it was me? Impossible!” His body blurred as, instead of going out personally, he sent one of his clones out of the hut to meet the men.
He kept the aura of his true self invisible; no one outside would be aware that he was still inside the hut.
As the clone emerged from the hut, the three men from the Hall of Corrections eyed him coldly. Then the one in the lead said, “Let’s go. The clan chief wants to see you!”
With that, they turned to leave, clearly not inclined to stay in this place one moment longer than necessary. Eyes flickering, Bai Xiaochun followed along in clone form.
“The clan chief wants to see me.... He’s Bai Hao’s father. Alright, this will be a good opportunity to see what Bai Hao’s father actually feels about him!” Considering that he was going in clone form instead of as his true self, he felt a lot safer.
The three men from the Hall of Corrections didn’t say anything to him along the way; their arrogance and disdain for him clearly went bone-deep. Inwardly, Bai Xiaochun chuckled coldly at them, proud at how these men were like sparrows, unaware that a dragon was in their midst.
“Just wait until you see my real cultivation base level. Then the three of you will be scared to death!” Bai Xiaochun was wrapped up in his thoughts as he followed them to the west district, which was very different from the east district. It was much quieter, a place that few people visited, and that was mostly occupied by female clan members.
Bai Xiaochun looked around in surprise and confusion as he was led to a mansion in the corner of the district. It wasn't very large, and consisted of only a few buildings surrounding a weed-filled courtyard. It was a bleak, run-down place that didn’t seem to be occupied.
The three men stopped out front of the mansion. “Go in. The clan chief is waiting inside.”
With that, they turned and left.
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes glittered; he could sense a faint aura within the mansion that he was sure belonged to a cultivator in the mid Nascent Soul stage.
“Don’t tell me he’s meeting me out here because he wants to kill me?” Bai Xiaochun was a bit surprised, but considering that he was here in clone form, his true self would have plenty of time to get away if things went wrong. Therefore, he simply walked into the mansion.
“Bai Hao,” he thought, “your Master is going into this dangerous situation for you! I want to see exactly how your father feels about you!”
Upon entering the main gate, he saw a man standing in the courtyard, facing away from him. Next to him was a simple well which he was looking down into.
The man’s hair was mostly black, but had some strands of white in it as well. Although he seemed middle-aged, he was clearly very old. Furthermore, there was something bleak and stern about him.
The courtyard seemed just as bleak, and there was a pressure weighing down that made it feel like a rainstorm might break out at any moment. Bai Xiaochun looked at the man's back, and then around at the courtyard, whereupon his eyes widened in surprise.
Although weeds choked the ground, they couldn’t cover up the countless wooden toys that filled the area. There were little horses and soldiers, drum-shaped rattles and other knicknacks....
There was a finesse to the way the toys were crafted that indicated they weren’t made by a man. They seemed more like trinkets that a mother would make for her child.
There were also some dilapidated items of clothing that had once belonged to a child scattered about in the corners. The scene spread out in front of Bai Xiaochun left him with some very complex and even indescribable emotions.
He wasn’t actually Bai Hao, but the sight of all of these children's toys made him suddenly feel as if he really had turned into him.
“This must be where Bai Hao grew up....” he thought as he stood there looking around at the toys, wondering what Bai Hao would be feeling if he were here instead. His heart already felt as if it were heavier than before.
As numerous complex emotions filled Bai Xiaochun's heart, the man standing there said, “Qi’er told me about how you cheated in the clan trials for spirit enhancement, soul medicine and flame conjuring!”
His voice was cold, and didn’t contain the slightest scrap of emotion. It was almost as if he were talking to a complete stranger. There was even a scolding tone to his words, the kind that would be used to reprimand a servant.
Bai Xiaochun stood there silently, unsure of what to say in response. “So, Bai Hao,” he murmured in his heart, “this is your father, huh...?”
Bai Hao’s father slowly turned, revealing a cold, expressionless face and an icy aura. The way he looked at Bai Xiaochun made it seem as if he were looking at someone he had never met. When he continued speaking, his words were as cold as a winter wind. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done something like this, either. I can tolerate your complete lack of ambition, and even the fact that you stole Qi’er’s research notes about fifteen-colored flame. But now you’ve gone and cheated!”
As of this moment, Bai Xiaochun realized that before his death, Bai Hao must have revealed to his father that he was talented in flame conjuring, in the hopes of winning his approval. Sadly, Bai Hao had been completely naïve in such hopes.
This man would give Bai Hao no such chances. In fact, it was even possible that he knew the truth of the matter, and yet still acted this way.
“Not only did you humiliate me, but you also broke clan law. According to the rules, I should take away your cultivation base and have you thrown into Devil Penitentiary for ten years! However, considering you do have the blood of the Bai Clan running in your veins, I’ll forgive you this one time. But if something like this ever happens again, I’ll personally cleanse our clan by removing you from it.” The killing intent in the clan chief’s eyes was as clear as day, and his voice cut as coldly as the harshest winter gale. As a result, Bai Xiaochun felt the same bitter fright that Bai Hao would have in the same situation.
The clan chief didn’t seem pleased with how Bai Xiaochun was standing there silently. A flicker of loathing passed through his eyes as he gestured toward the well.
“This is where your mother died. She was born a servant girl, and after her death, became a servant soul. Her fate was to submit, and as a bastard son, you need to learn to do the same thing. Submit! Understand?!”
The spark of rage which rose up in Bai Xiaochun's heart was impossible to suppress. Looking over at the clan chief, he replied, “No, I don't understand.”